The curse of many pipers, especially many new pipers, is finding a good instructor. It’s absolutely essential for beginners to have an instructor, and even the best pipers will benefit from a lesson from time to time. Many times, however, new pipers are stymied by their location, and find themselves in the middle of a blank spot on the piping map.
This was one of my concerns when I moved to Maine. The state is relatively large geographically but rather sparsely populated, and where there are few people there tend to be even fewer pipers. As it turns out there are a few high level solo players in the state (I know of four grade 1 pipers in Maine and another in Connecticut who was originally from Augusta), but they’re pretty spread out, and the three who play with a band travel at least as far as Massachusetts to do so.
Having an instructor nearby is a luxury that I took for granted when I lived Pittsburgh and Maryland, never having to drive more than about 20 minutes to meet my instructor. Now, however, getting a lesson is a daylong affair: it involves driving two and a half hours through three states, a two hour lesson, then a return trip.
Because the time involved and my schedule, I’m able to have a lesson every few months, which means that most of the work needs to be done on my own. Finding a time and place to practice is a bit difficult, with thirty teenage boys living within a few yards of my door and a full teaching job.
This piping thing is not for the faint of heart.